Best Survival Backpack: The Gear You Can Count On

Best Survival Backpack
Written by Dennis Owens

People who are into outdoor activities are liable to get injured or even stranded, which is why it’s important for you to select the best survival backpack for your particular needs. Not to mention that there are many types of emergency situations, but all of them require you to be prepared.

With the increasing number of both natural and man-made disasters, most government agencies advise for planning and preparing. It’s a fact that earthquakes happen without any notice at all, that fires can start because of our negligence and that some of the most common injuries occur in our own homes.

In this article we’ve reviewed what we think are the topnotch items on the market, and we’ve taken into account the most frequent or likely to happen emergency situations. It’s possible that your lifestyle and residence can make you more prone to a certain type of incident, so take that into consideration when you’re selecting your emergency equipment.

How Do I Select My Survival Backpack?

There is a lot of debate on whether people should actually purchase a ready-made emergency bag, or try to make one on their own. The pickiest and most dedicated survivalists will probably opt for a DIY survival bag, because they see this as a hobby, and are willing to invest a lot of time and energy into selecting the perfect gear.

Survival backpack kit

On the other hand, that doesn’t mean people who go for a ready-made backpack are less interested in their survival chances. Most of these bags actually sum up a lot of useful items, packed in a very smart way. Besides, if you feel like something is missing from your bag, you’re always free to add more items later on, or replace some of the things you feel you don’t need.

But if you do so, try to consider the criteria which make up for a good survival backpack:

Type of emergency

There are a few questions you need to ask yourself here:

  1. Do you need a survival backpack for indoor/ urban emergencies?
  2. Do you need a survival backpack for outdoor emergencies?
  3. Do you live in an area prone to natural disasters?
  4. What natural disasters are more likely to occur in your area of residence? (e.g.: floods, earthquakes, fires, tornadoes, etc.)
  5. What types of supplies are you most likely to need? (e.g.: victuals, medicine, weapons etc.)
  6. If you need a survival bag for outdoor accidents, where are you more likely to use it? (e.g.: camping, hiking, trekking, hunting, fishing, etc.)
  7. How long do you think you will need the bag for?


Size is another important factor to consider, firstly depending on how many people will need the supplies inside it. Be sure to check that the provisions are enough for each family member that goes with you, and that you can withstand the emergency situations for the number of days you need.

Survival backpacks different sizes and design

Moreover, get a bag that’s easy to carry depending on the situation you’re in. For example, if you’re in an earthquake or fire, you probably need something lightweight and not very big. But if you’re out camping in a van in the middle of nowhere, you can manage to get a bigger, more comprehensive survival kit.


When it comes to design, the bag you go for has to be manufactured from high quality materials, and must have top grade craftsmanship. Which is pretty obvious, otherwise you’ll get nothing for nothing.

But consider the color as well. If you’re in an urban emergency, like an earthquake, you most likely need a bright colored backpack – orange for instance. That’s the color which most signals help and urgent. But if you need a survival bag for a hunting trip, go for an earth-toned item, which helps camouflage you.

Food and water

Victuals are essential for most emergency situations. However, many people regard survival in different ways. For instance, some think that their survival bag has to have at least half gallon of water per person per day, because that’s the minimum recommended daily amount. However, others think that survival simply means not dying, which you can do with half that amount of water.

Emergency Food and water

Same goes for food: while some people need at least 2000 calories per day even in survival circumstances, others prefer to ration their food and make more room in their backpacks for different equipment.

It all depends on your personality and the type of emergency you’re in.

Basic emergency gear

Check to see if your backpack has the basic equipment to help you survive, apart from food and water:

  • Flashlight and batteries.
  • Knife.
  • Rope.
  • Duct tape.
  • Waterproof matches.
  • Blanket and/ or poncho.
  • Mask.
  • Emergency phone charger.
  • Whistle.
  • Multitool.
  • Flashing beacon.
  • First aid kit.
  • Water purification tablets.


Make sure the bag has versatile items that can be used in more than one situation. Apart from victuals which have a pretty straightforward purpose, the other things inside have to be multi-functional.

Survival backpack items

For example, it’s sometimes better to choose a multitool than a simple cutting knife, or a compass that doubles as a signal mirror than a basic one.

What Are The Best Items Out There?

That being said, the list below comprises items that meet most of the above criteria. Even if you don’t end up choosing one of our suggested backpacks, you can still make a pretty good idea of what to look for, and how to do it.

Earthquake Kit 4 Person Deluxe Home Honey Bucket Survival Emergency

Earthquake Kit 4 Person Deluxe Home Honey Bucket Survival Emergency

Weight: 21.35 pounds

Dimensions: 14 x 16.5 x 24 inches

Design Features: Emergency Supplies for 4 People

Best Use: 72 Hours Survival after an Earthquake

Description: Earthquake Kit 4 Person Deluxe Home Honey Bucket Survival Emergency contains all the necessary items for survival in case of an earthquake for a common family of 4, which could include the parents and 2 children.

It’s basically a bucket that has a lid on top in case you want to use it as a portable toilet, which includes very helpful equipment and supplies to be used in case of an emergency.

For example, you can find 4 food bars each containing 2400 calories. That is more than enough for the average daily needs of a grown-up, so if you ration your food carefully you can actually make it last for more days. Apart from the food and water, you also receive some water purification tablets in case your situation doesn’t improve after 4 days and you still have to make some clean water.

The blankets and ponchos will help keep you warm, while the 54 First Aid Kit is packed with most of the medicine you need in case of an earthquake. The tool kit which includes duct tape, pry bar, flashlights, and an utility knife can also provide further assistance.

This backpack is great for emergencies, but if you have the time and energy, you can probably get all the items inside for half the price and make your own survival kit.

Mayday Deluxe 2 Person Backpack Kit

Mayday Deluxe 2 Person Backpack Kit

Weight: 12 pounds

Dimensions: 16 x 12 x 8 inches

Design Features: 2 Persons, Black

Best Use: Emergency Use

Description: Mayday Deluxe 2 Person Backpack Kit contains a very sturdy backpack, packed with things you might need in case you get stranded somewhere or in case of an emergency. There are two very high calorie food bars which don’t take much room and which can be rationed to last longer, as well as 12 pouches of water.

The solar blankets and the ponchos offered will help keep your body temperature up if it’s very cold outside or even inside – your power may be out when an earthquake hits.

Speaking of which, the dust masks inside this backpack can protect you both from debris resulted after an earthquake, as well as from the smoke resulted in a fire. The flashlight that comes with its own batteries and the 12 hour light stick will help you navigate through darkness, but also give out distress signals.

If you’re in the wilderness, this backpack comes with a 2 person tent, a stove, as well as waterproof matches, utility knife and water purification tablets. That way, you can have shelter and the necessary tools to survive even away from civilization.

Related: Mayday also offers this backpack in the 3 person version.

Advanced Medical Kits Emergency Bivvy

Advanced Medical Kits Emergency Bivvy

Weight: 2 ounces

Dimensions: 84 x 36 inches unpacked

Design Features: Orange, Reflective Heatsheets® Material, Waterproof, Windproof

Best Use: Full Protection Shelter from the Elements

Description: At a very low retail price, Advanced Medical Kits Emergency Bivvy is great especially if you have to spend a night or two outdoors. Given that it’s manufactured out of a material that reflects up to 90% of the heat your body radiates, it’s bound to keep you very warm even in temperatures that reach freezing.

An average height and weight adult can easily fit inside it when it’s unpacked, although when it’s packed, this emergency Bivvy is very compact, small and lightweight. It can easily be carried around your neck or in your jacket pocket. However, it provides an awesome shelter that even some professionals choose to use. That’s because it’s made from a heat-reflective polyethylene that doesn’t let the wind, rain or snow reach you while you’re inside.

Being waterproof and windproof are great advantages for extreme survival conditions, but you should know that it’s not really comfortable on your back and that you can also loose heat if you don’t insulate it. As such, find some leaves to put beneath it before going to sleep, and place the bivvy in a hazard-free spot.

Gerber Bear Grylls Basic Survival Kit

Gerber Bear Grylls Basic Survival Kit

Weight: 4.2 ounces

Dimensions: 4.5 x 5 inches

Design Features: Eight Piece Kit; Lightweight, Ripstop Nylon Bag with Waterproof Zipper

Best Use: Various Military, Hunting, Survival, Tactical, Industrial and Outdoor Situations

Description: Gerber Bear Grylls Basic Survival Kit is a basic survival kit that offers you a small and compact way to carry some of the best equipment to survive in the wild. The lightweight nylon bag has a waterproof zipper, containing a copy of Bear Grylls Priorities of Survival pocket guide.

Among the things you’ll find inside is a sharp knife, which will enable you to deal with some small tasks like cutting line or eating. Even though it’s pretty sturdy, you will still need a hatchet for cutting tree branches and making a campfire, which you can successfully light with the included Firesteel. For this purpose, you also get matches and a cotton ball which can be used as emergency tinder, provided you keep it dry.

Other items you could find useful are the snare wire – made of copper and the cordage, useful for lashing for shelter. You can even use the cordage to make a spear after you secure a knife to a stick.

If you’re in an emergency situation, you can use the whistle to signal your position, which is why you can employ the included string for wearing it around your neck.

Rothco Deluxe Adventurer Survival Kit Knife

Rothco Deluxe Adventurer Survival Kit Knife

Weight: 1.2 pounds

Dimensions: 16 x 10.5 x 2 inches

Design Features: Fish Line, Hook, Sinkers, Band-aids, Pencil, Harpoon, Signal Mirror, Morse Code and Finger Tip Saw inside the Hollow Handle of the Knife.

Best Use: Beginner Adventurer or Survivalist; Fishing Trips

Description: Rothco Deluxe Adventurer Survival Kit Knife is quality tested, and the Rothco brand assures you that it’s a very durable item to have, even when you use it in the roughest conditions. That doesn’t exclude the added comfort, which complements the tough performance that this survival kit knife can offer you.

As such, you can handle yourself in different surroundings and survival conditions with the help of a 10.5 inch long knife, which has a hollow handle packed with fish line, hook, sinkers and small harpoon for your fishing trips, as well as a very practical signal mirror, finger tip saw and pencil.

The knife has a 5.25 inch blade that slides perfectly into the added sheath, which is gifted with a peg that can be used as a wire cutter. The top of the handle is screw-off, which helps keep the things inside of it dry, but also comes with a much needed compass.

Adventure Medical Kits UltraLight & Watertight .9 Kit

Adventure Medical Kits UltraLight & Watertight .9 Kit

Weight: 7.2 ounces

Dimensions: 10 x 7.5 x 3 inches

Design Features: 2-Stage Waterproofing; Inner DryFlex Bags; Outer Seam-sealed Silicon Nylon Bag with Water-resistant Zipper

Best Use: Medical Emergencies

Description: If you’re looking for survival backpacks, you can’t neglect the medical emergencies that might arise and which you have to deal with proficiently. Even though most people have a first aid kit in their homes or cars, this item will provide further assistance for outdoor emergencies. As such, it’s a very lightweight and small package to carry with you – you can easily fit it in your backpack.

Adventure Medical Kits UltraLight & Watertight .9 Kit is even waterproof if you have to transport it from your tent to the place where someone got injured, without being afraid that its contents will damage from the rain. Even the zipper is water-resistant. The material this kit is crafted from is very resistant, contributing to its light weight: the inner bags are DryFLex and the outer bag is seam-sealed and nylon siliconized.

Inside, you will find an irrigation syringe and some wound closure strips which you can use to clean and close the wounds. You will be able to stop the bleeding of an injured person by using the included trauma pad and wide elastic wraps. These wraps can be applied in combination with the bandages to stabilize fractures and sprains, providing support to an injured limb.

While these are the most dangerous injuries you can get in a hiking trip, blisters are known as the most frequent injuries hikers get. But you can use the die-cut Moleskin plus Skin Tac topical adhesive inside to stop them from even forming.

While this is a great kit for medical emergencies and typical hiking wounds, you might still need to take a first aid kit along.

Adventure Medical Kits SOL Origin Survival Tool

Adventure Medical Kits SOL Origin Survival Tool

Weight: 7 ounces

Dimensions: 10.8 x 6.8 x 1.2 inches

Design Features: Rugged ABS Hinged Case with Machined Silicone Gasket for Waterproof Protection

Best Use: Ski / Snowboard, Hiking / Backpacking, Mountain / Road Biking, Hunting / Fishing, Off Roading, Paddle sports

Description: Amazing for outdoor survival, Adventure Medical Kits SOL Origin Survival Tool will definitely improve your chances as it will serve a lot of purposes. As such, you will be able to signal your location and let the people you’re with know you exact position.

If you’re lost in the middle of nowhere, you can let people from rescue points as far as 20 miles know where you are with the Rescue Flash signal mirror. If you’re closer to safety, the 100db pea-less whistle can be heard from about a mile away, and the removable, liquid-filled button compass will help you find your way back.

If you need a knife for precision cutting, the included knife will help you deal with small camp tasks like slicing, shaving and whittling. It’s a very sturdy knife, manufactured out of AUS-8 stainless steel, which makes it pretty comfortable to use. Not to mention that it has a folding lock-blade, turning it rather compact.

If you need a light source in the darkness or to better see what you’re working at, the ultra-bright LED light included will aim down the blade for task lighting. It has a run time of 15 hours, which is quite a lot in itself. However, you can easily replace the batteries to use it for an extended period of time.

You can start a fire with the included waterproof Fire Lite sparker, which can be used with only one hand, producing over 5000 sparks. All these items are stored in a rugged ABS hinged case with machined silicone gasket, for waterproof protection.

Related: Adventure Medical Kits also offers this backpack in the 2 pack version.

Ready America 70385 Deluxe Emergency Kit 4 Person Backpack

Ready America 70385 Deluxe Emergency Kit 4 Person Backpack

Weight: 19.7 pounds

Dimensions: 18 x 12 x 8 inches

Design Features: 4 Person Emergency Kit

Best Use: Survival 72 Hours after Disaster

Description: Ready America 70385 Deluxe Emergency Kit 4 Person Backpack is one of the packs aimed to people who want to be prepared with the basic supplies to withstand a few days after a disaster hits.

As such, the deluxe kit offers more options than the other related products, like for instance the emergency hand crank power station that comes with an incorporated flashlight, an AM/ Fm radio, a siren and a cell phone charger. The siren is amazing for signaling your position, and the cell phone charger is a nice addition to assure you remain in contact with your close ones or can call the authorities.

On the flipside, the water supply offered is not really enough for three days. It only includes 1 liter per person per day, which is about half of the recommended daily amount. However, it could be said that in emergency situations you need to survive, not to have plenty. Besides, you can easily add some water purification tabs to the kit, which are only included in the 2-Person Deluxe Emergency Kit.

You will find a 107 piece first aid kit in case you have a medical emergency, a pair of nitrile and leather gloves, a 4-function power station, a multi-function tool, and duct tape to further assist you in surviving after a disaster.

Related: 1-Person Emergency Kit, 2-Person Emergency Kit, 2-Person Deluxe Emergency Kit, 4-Person Emergency Kit

Gerber Zombie Apocalypse Survival Kit

Gerber Zombie Apocalypse Survival Kit

Weight: 11.3 pounds

Dimensions: 28 x 12 x 6 inches

Design Features: Durable Canvas Carrying Case with Reinforced Stitching

Best Use: Zombie Apocalypse; Disasters; Emergencies

Description:  Gerber Zombie Apocalypse Survival Kit is compact and easy-to-use, multi-purpose kit is great if you’re a Walking Dead fan or if you need these tools in case of a natural disaster. First of all, it includes the Gator and Parang Machetes, which are great for self-defense, as well as sawing tree limbs to make firewood or clearing bushes to make a clear path.

The three machetes included are the Gator, the Gator Pro and the Parang, each manufactured out of high-carbon stainless steel, and each having a very clear purpose.

There are also three knives included, the Epic, the DMF Folder, and the LMF II Infantry, which you can use for protection, for making firewood or even to improvise a shelter by cutting some tree branches. Each of these knives has an excellent manufacture and uses durable materials like titanium nitrate for the blade of the Epic.

Every zombie fight requires a sturdy all-purpose axe with its own molded sheath, like the one included here. Its handle is made from glass-filled nylon, while its head is forged steel.

All these items are enclosed in a carrying case made from durable canvas with reinforced stitching that makes it ideal for transport. The stud buttons used will keep the case in a tiny, compact package, easy to carry when you’re dealing with zombies.

4 Person Perfect Survival Kit Deluxe for Earthquake

4 Person Perfect Survival Kit Deluxe for Earthquake

Weight: 32 pounds

Dimensions: 12 x 18 x 24 inches

Design Features: 1 Deluxe Duffel Bag; 4 Persons

Best Use: Earthquake, Hurricane, Fire, Flood

Description: 4 Person Perfect Survival Kit Deluxe for Earthquake is one of the most comprehensive items on the market.

The selection is qualitative and very well put together, even considering the basic food supplies, such as the 48 pouches of Datrex water with a 5 year shelf-life, or the 48 food bars, each worth 200 calories and likewise having a 5 year shelf-life. You will also get 40 water purification tablets in case your water runs out.

Other basic survival equipment included in this backpack are: a hand crank AM/FM radio which doesn’t need batteries, as well as two great hand squeeze rechargeable flashlights. The 5 in 1 survival whistle is likewise a great addition: you can use it as a compass, a signal mirror, a flint starter, a waterproof container, a lanyard or a shrill whistle.

The included box of 50 waterproof matches and the fire starter will assist you in lighting many fires, while the 4 sleeping bags and 4 emergency ponchos with hoods will keep you warm at night, even if you’re sleeping in the 2 person tube tent provided, or using the 4 body warmers.

For the basic camp chores, you will find a 16 function knife, a pair of leather palm gloves, a 50 foot rope, can opener, waste bags, water bag, portable stove and survival candles.

What’s different in regards to this backpack is that it includes a lot of personal hygiene items, as well as a deck of cards to make the time pass easily and improve morale.

So What Should I Actually Choose?

That being said, these backpacks are our top choices for survival conditions that include various natural or human made disasters, as well as accidents. We selected only items that can provide versatility, durability, compactness and functionality, being able to increase your survival chances.

Prepare your survival backpack

However, with the plethora of products that you can find on the market nowadays, and with the increasing awareness on the need for preparedness in case of disaster, we’re sure that there are a ton of other useful items out there. Have we missed something? Let us know in the comments below.


Dennis Owens

Dennis Owens is a graduate of National Camping School and REI Outdoor School. He knows everything about what gear to take with you, how to plan your trip to stay safe and what to do if you get lost in the mountains. We are lucky to have Dennis with us as he is a ‘walking encyclopedia’ when it comes to the wilderness.